Friday, February 11, 2005

The New Gilded Age.

During the 2005 State of the Union address, George W. Bush said that small businesses and our economy is held back from “frivolous asbestos claims.” He forgot to mention that one of those “small businesses” is Dresser Industries, a subsidiary of Halliburton. When Vice President Dick Cheney was CEO of Halliburton he purchased Dresser Industries and their pending asbestos lawsuits too. These “frivolous” lawsuits come to trial because asbestos has a small side affect of being DEADLY.

Presidents weren’t always so quick to defend corporations against We the People in their State of the Union addresses. During the raise of the first American Gilded Age several of our national leaders were concerned about the raise of private power processed by corporate elites.

Seeing the raise of corporate power in 1838 President Martin Van Buren said in his State of the Union address:

“I am more than ever convinced of the dangers to which the free and unbiased exercise of political opinion, the only sure foundation and safeguard for republican government, would be exposed by any further increase of the already overgrown influence of corporate authorities.”

That bleak picture later in the 19th century looked much worse as the railroads had begun to monopolize. Before the Industrial Revolution most Americans made their living on the farm. But to get your products to market the railroads charged a pretty penny. Corporations like Union Pacific literally held the fate of millions of Americans in their hands. Seeing this danger in 1894, President Grover Cleveland said in his State of the Union address:

“As we view the achievements of aggregated capital we discover the existence of trusts, combinations, and monopolies. While the citizen is struggling far in the rear or is trampled to death beneath an iron heel. Corporations, which should be the carefully restrained creatures of the law and the servants of the people are fast becoming the people’s masters.”

We are now all slaves on a giant plantation called America.


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